In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, music legend Quincy Jones says he was hooked on heroin when he was 15 years old and that Malcolm X sold him and his bandmates drugs.
Jones was on THR’s Awards Chatter podcast and said that he and Ray Charles used to do the drug after performing at clubs when they were both teenagers.
“[It] had me hooked for five months at 15,” he said. “The guys, when they finished playing, they’d go in the corner and they had it on their thumb.”
He said he was high on the drug when he fell down five flights of stairs, prompting him to quit.
“The mistakes are what help you grow and learn. That was a big one,” he said. “If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a junkie forever. Thank god we did it there and got it over with.”
Following his graduation from Berklee College of Music, he joined legendary pianist and bandleader Lionel Hampton and his eponymous band. He later found out Malcolm X, before he became a civil rights activist, sold the band drugs, writes the Daily Mail.
“We used to call him “Detroit red,” he’d have his Italian suits on,” he said. Jones first shared the story in a wide-ranging interview with GQ in January.
The legend said that his childhood was a “nightmare,” but said that music helped him stay out of trouble, particularly when he discovered his love for piano after breaking into a social hall to play.
“That turned my life around,’ he said. ‘I’d have been dead or in prison if I hadn’t done that.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.